Actin UR is a powerful software development platform and preconfigured, plug-and-play coprocessor built to enable the full potential of Universal Robots cobot arms in industrial, commercial, and manufacturing applications. Designed specifically for application developers looking for a richer development environment and access to advanced capabilities not available through the UR teach pendant, Actin UR provides Energid’s industrial grade best-in-class motion control framework in an easy-to-use and deploy package specifically designed for UR cobots.
Unlock the Potential of your Universal Robots eSeries Robot with Actin UR
Actin UR ships with software already pre-installed on a coprocessor that connects directly to the UR Controller. . Simply connect the ethernet cable to the robot, set the IP address, and start controlling the robot. The software API and tools are maintained and supported by Energid, allowing your development team to focus on getting work done rather than sifting through online forums and open source projects for support. If you need additional help, Energid offers expert development services to get you up and running even faster.
Originally developed for NASA, Actin was designed to simplify motion control for some of the world’s most difficult robot tasking problems, and has been doing so for almost twenty years. Actin UR includes proven and tested libraries for local path planning, global path planning, collision detection and avoidance, and optimized motion for under constrained systems. All motion plans can be tested using Actin URs advanced simulation environment, allowing rapid iteration and testing off-robot, greatly reducing integration time. Motion primitives that meet the PLC/Open standard are included in Actin’s motion scripting.
Actin performs collision detection and avoidance while running on-line. It has the ability to adjust tasking on-the-fly for moving or relocated obstacles and target objects. This combines the benefits of off-line development and testing with on-line real-time adaptive motion control. Actin provides control far beyond what's attainable with just the teach pendant.
Actin includes the Robot Control Framework (RCF) and multi-layer, real-time framework that ensure safe, multi-threaded processing on Windows, Linux and QNX. RCF simplifies the integration of sensors, actuators and external application through both the Actin Transfer Layer and the Actin gRPC communication services. The Actin CORE control is tightly integrated with RCF to provide control loop cycles that include collision detection, inverse kinematics, motion control, and robot motor commands through the RTDE interface.
Adding an external axis such as rail or turntable is supported by Actin UR. The motion control will coordinate the position and velocity of all axes as a single motion control solution. This allows for 360 degree reach around parts for inspection or extended reach along a rail for welding or dispensing applications, for example.
With Natural Tasking, you no longer need to program waypoints. Just specify the starting and ending point. Using dynamic planning and soft constraints, the Actin controller will optimize the motion trajectory avoiding collisions, joint limits and singularities. You can control the velocity along tools paths and let Actin determine the best gripper pose to accomplish the task. Tasks are written based on relative object location, and those objects can be moving. Toolpaths can float and Actin will maintain the path as long as it’s within reach. Tasks are defined independent of the robot hardware, so you can swap a UR10e for a UR5e and get the same functionality without re-coding. To learn more about the details of our natural tasking approach, read this article: Natural Tasking Article - Engineering.com
Getting an application to completion with reduced effort is the key goal of Actin UR. The Actin UR dev environment includes example projects that you can use to start your own application development. This includes sample tasks for inspection, welding, dispensing, and dynamic pick and place. We also include examples of how to integrate computer vision with motion control to dynamically update the pose of target objects in the environment.
In addition to EcScript, Actin UR provides a gRPC interface to the run time controller so that you can interface your existing applications with Actin using the language of your choice, including C++, C#, Python, and Java
Actin UR includes a development environment to simulate, tune, configure and program the robot tasks, as well as deployment tools that simplify the packaging and testing of delivered applications. Simulation allows for fast off-line development and test and quick on-line integration and test using the same models and tasks.
Part of Actin UR, the Actin Robot Control Framework (RCF) is a runtime application which is configurable in XML. As an option, you can add an EtherCAT interface to external axes such as robot on rail or robot with turntable positioner. The Actin RCF architecture Transfer Layer handles EtherCAT communications, send motor control commands as part of the kinematic solution and reads back positioning information. Contact us about support for EtherCAT devices in Actin UR.
While solving the inverse kinematic problem, Actin takes into account minimum distances from object in the workspace outlined with bounding volumes. Smooth motion around bounding volumes using either global path planning or local planning with soft constraints is possible. Either way, the collision avoidance is automatic.
Since tasks are programmed according to object position and orientation, the motion is recalculated every cycle using the updated position of target objects. Tracking system that use vision (e.g. OptiTrack) merely update the position and orientation of tracked objects. The Actin motion tracks with the moving object without need to change the programming scripts.
Multiple robots in the same space can be used to coordinate a task. This can include simultaneous cooperative grasping (lifting) or one robot holding the part while the other works with a tool on the part. Both robots are command using a common reference frame and TCPs between the two robots can be linked. The UR robot can be of different types, since tasking is independent of robot geometry.
Developing applications with Actin follows a proven process
Actin provides kinematic models in CAD for all the UR robots. In addition, the workspace and manipulated objects, additional axes are defined in CAD. The control, constraints, and optimization parameters are tuned using Actin viewer. Tasks are written in our EcScript language, which allows the user to create tasks relative to object poses rather than programming waypoints. This includes local and global path planning. Simulation in Actin Viewer allows the developer to verify the solution before integration with hardware.
The tasks created during simulation are directly useable in the real-time system on hardware - and the tasks can adjust motion according to a dynamic environment - a significant improvement over off-line programming. Actin offers deployment tools to package the run time components, drivers and task scripts into a single, installable package. Interfaces to popular free monitoring tools, such as Prometheus, are provided to monitor the run-time performance of the system once deployed.
· Dynamic Pick-and-Place
· Bin Picking
· Machine Tending
Our proven process, used on industrial and commercial robot projects for years, is now available through an integrated set of components that make up the Actin UR SDK.
Actin Viewer - A full desktop application where you can configure the robot environment, tune the control model, write robot tasks in Actin’s simple high-level scripting language (EcScript), and simulate and visualize the results. The Actin Viewer supports loading and simulating tool paths, complex motion, moving target objects, external axis coordination, and more. Import CAD models in a variety of formats or use the included SOLIDWORKS Add-in for Actin to model a custom axis or 3rd party robot.
Actin Robot Controller - The Actin Robot Control Framework (RCF) is a flexible, XML-based control application that includes a global data store, multi-threaded controller, state machines modeling the robot system and modifiable data-transfer layers to interface to hardware. This framework is completely extensible and offers robust, tested real-time control (requires QNX 7 RTOS for realtime. Linux and Windows support near real-time control).
Actin Viz - A user interface with remote connection to the Actin RCF controller. This includes a visual rendering of the robot with collision alert, ability to clear protective stops. Map UI buttons to your script tasks to create a simple and effective console to test and demonstrate your application. Actin Viz can be modified to create operator interfaces using the advanced user interface tools available under Qt/QML.
Actin Libraries - With twenty years of tested industrial robotics control, the Actin CORE libraries offer an extensive set of optimized motion control, inverse kinematics, path planning and dynamic optimization modules. These are all extendable by the robot developer. Actin RCF is built on top of Actin CORE and provides a scripting interface to the underlying motion control libraries.
Reference Designs - We’ve also included template applications for starting your development. Basic projects for inspection, welding, dispensing and pick and place are included with the Actin UR software. Begin with these basic projects and develop your own highly customized robot control solution.
Actin Co-processor - An industrial computer with the Actin UR software preloaded and configured for UR control. The PC specs include Intel i7 quad core processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 2 x Ethernet interface (EtherCAT compatible), USB 3 x 2 ports, Ubuntu 18.04 operating system.
Actin UR is being released for early access in mid-August 2020. It builds on the Actin SDK, which has deployed in industrial and mission critical environments for twenty years. If you would like to learn more about Actin UR or begin a trial for your unique robotics application, please contact us to book a demonstration.